When we bought our house, we had no idea what was under the 20 year old carpet that covers the whole house. The previous owner did not know either – and his family has been living in the house for 17 years!

But on closing day, during our final walk-through, we had a chance to peek under the carpet, thanks to an ironing accident the previous owner had:



Isn’t it hardwood flooring? Our realtor got really excited and immediately suggested that the whole first floor might have been hardwood.

And he is right.


Every room on the main floor has hardwood floors underneath the carpet! And we only found out an hour before our closing! This is 95% good news, but 5% trouble – we were prepared to move in THAT DAY, right after signing the papers. The trunk was rented, the moving boxes were sealed, and the notice was given to our current rental. The discovery is a real temptation to pause the moving process, so we can remove the carpet BEFORE moving furniture in. But where are we gonna store all of our stuff and sleep at night? More importantly, Slav had a work deadline in a week from the closing day. He could not afford to lose any more time besides the move itself.

But furnishing the house on top of 20 year old carpet, knowing there is hardwood floors underneath? No way! The decision were made when we drove to the closing – move out of our rental as planned, unload everything into the garage, only throw a mattress into the basement to sleep (also carpeted), and pull the main floor carpet before unpacking.

Oh, and I would be the only one working on the carpet.

So we started. We closed on the house around 11AM, went back to the rental an hour away, and spent the whole afternoon loading the trunk. We drove the dogs and our stuff to the ranch around 7pm, and Slav immediately start unloading everything into the garage. The only thing we moved into the house was a full-size mattress.

Our first dinner in our “new” house is Domino’s.


Next morning, Slav dragged in an entry table and started writing.


At the mean time, I took off the closet door in the bedroom and started ripping off the carpet.

01 start from bedroom closet

The carpet was only loosely held by the nails on the wooden tack strip. It is pretty easy to pull off with just bare hands. It is heavy though, so I used an utility knife to cut it into small sections as I pulled it off for easy transport. The underlayment beneath carpet however, was held down by staples. Since the carpet is 20 years old, pulling the underlayment off caused some parts to crumble around the staples, which made a big mess.

Overall, the bedroom carpet removal was a breeze. It took me about half an hour to drag the whole room’s carpet and underlayment out to the front porch. And it left me a good amount of dust, hundreds of staples on the hardwood floor, and carpet tack strips around the perimeter of the room.




Removing staples and tack strips are not nearly as easy. For one, I have to hunch over and get pretty close to the floor, so it is very hard on my back and knees. It is also very dusty. I was wearing a mask with good filters.

It took me about an hour to remove all the staples and Slav went in with his ply bar to remove the tack strips.

07 strip off




Encouraged by the bedroom success, I moved on to the other bedroom on the main floor. This room is bigger, and we plan to make it an office for Slav. Again, I started by removing closet door and pulling carpet out of there:

11 office


The office has two types of underlayment:


I guess the one on the left is better? Because the underlayment was pulled right up with ease, left me smooth flooring in perfect condition. On the other hand, the one on the right crumbled into pieces and left so much dust:


Not only the underlayment on the right was fragile, it also stuck to the floor pretty well. I had to use a scraper to slowly chip the underlayment off the wood floor.


After I removed staples, Slav took a break from his work and removed the tack strips in 15 minutes:

18 Strip off office

The old(er) underlayment left some marks on the floor, but the left half of the room was spotless:

23 after office

I then moved onto the small hallway among two bedroom doors, the bathroom door, and the living room. Having the same type of underlayment as the right side of the office, and being a high traffic area, the floor in the hallway is in bad shape:

22 hallway

After removing tack strips and a good scrape, the hallway floor was a lot better:

24 after hallway

The bad underlayment slowed me down quite a bit. While the bedroom only took me half a day, scraping the office and the hallway took me almost the entire second day. For these two nights, we slept on a full mattress on the floor of the basement and basically lived on drive-through. We even had KFC bucket – something we have not eaten for about a decade!

By the end of the 3rd day, we managed to have our king bed in our bedroom!


And Slav was also able to move into his new office! The desk he uses in temporary, because setting up his standing desk takes time. But at least he was able to close the door and block all the dust and noise (me) as well as the dogs out when he needed to concentrate. This room also is the only one that has a window AC.


On the third day, I moved onto the living room. This room is 18′ by 13′, a lot bigger than any of the bedrooms. It took me nearly half a day to just getting rid of all the carpet and underlayment.

19 living

And Roxie certainly did not help. We did not give her much attention while working on the house/computer. So this girl threw a big protest by laying on the carpet 6 inches ahead of me. 🙂


The floor in the living room is unfortunately not in a good condition. It was clearly not protected when the walls were painted. The old white paint stuck to the floor and the scraper really did not help much here.

21 livingroom

After clean-up, the only area left was the entry way tile. It looks like that we might have hardwood floor underneath the tiles as well.

27 after living

We actually lived with these tiles for two weeks, and it was just removed yesterday when Slav finally had some time. The tiles was glued down onto old linoleum flooring, which was glued directly onto the hardwood floor. Even after heavy scraping, We can still see some glue left on floor.


We do have the plan to finish the floor down the road. But it is hard for us to decide on the colors without a clear vision for the main floor yet. For now, we are just gonna cover the problematic areas with area rugs.


And our front porch looked like this for a good two weeks:


It wasn’t like our ranch house had any curb appeal to begin with, but I am pretty sure that these dirty carpet and underlayment brought our curb appeal to waaaaay negative. On the other hand, it was a great conversation starter with the neighbors. We kept the windows and doors wide open during carpet removal, and met many friendly neighbors who asked about our renovation. And we got some ideas from their stories as well. We do not have HOAs, but everyone seems to be putting in effort to keep a good curb appeal. And we hope to catch up soon!